LeBron James has been the best player in the NBA for at least the last decade. For 17 years, LeBron James has at least been the best small forward in the league. This kind of dominance is very rare and actually unprecedented because James never suffered any serious injuries and has remained as healthy as an Ox since his rookie season. 4 NBA rings, 4 Finals MVPs, 4 MVPs, and 18 All-Star Team appearances means he is in a distinct class among Hall of Famers.
But father time always wins, and LeBron James will soon be retiring. Fans and critics of LeBron James will both miss him when he isn't playing anymore, as he is one of the last remaining "old-school" players of the previous generation. With a host of young talent coming in, the NBA will always remain competitive with great players. But with LeBron James out of the league, 7 NBA superstars will be the next face of the league.
It is time to rank the best NBA players who will be the next GOAT after LeBron James retires.
7. Stephen Curry
Career Statistics: 23.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Unfortunately for Steph, he is getting up there in age as well and will probably have 4 seasons at an All-Star level before he begins his retirement phase. But his talent and skillset are enough to place him on this list, especially since he changed the NBA game for the foreseeable future. Curry's offensive prowess is legendary as he is a threat from anywhere on the court.
Stephen Curry has won 3 NBA titles and 2 MVPs including a unanimous MVP win thanks to his unbelievable season in 2016. He has also carried the responsibility of being named the greatest shooter in NBA history who changed the NBA game to how it is today. For a long time, the best point guard in the NBA was Curry and there was no discussion. When LeBron James retires, Curry will certainly be one of the GOATs of the league.
6. Kevin Durant
Career Statistics: 27.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG
Durant is an incredible scorer. He is a legitimate 50-40-90 guy every season, not to mention his ability to drain shots from anywhere on the court. His jump shooting is among the best in the league, but so are his other offensive skills. He is unstoppable at attacking the basket because of his tremendous length and athleticism and is just a nightmare to handle. Durant has had a strong case for the best offensive player in the NBA since he entered the league and might be a top-5 scorer ever.
Like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant is approaching 32 years of age and will probably have a few years in the tank at an MVP level (assuming he gets back to his original self after his injury). Durant has been the second-best player in the NBA for a while now and deserves to be on this list.
5. James Harden
Career Statistics: 25.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Former MVP James Harden is one of the game's greatest offensive perimeter players, who can create his own shots and drain tough contested threes in the face of helpless defenders. His step-back three is becoming one of the best offensive go-to moves in NBA history, and Harden always finds a way to get it off. Whether he scores the ball at an all-time great clip or sets his teammates up, Harden is already one of the best offensive players ever. Harden on any team becomes a title contender because his impact is too great.
As the best scorer in the NBA and a complete offensive machine on his own, James Harden is among the 5 best players who will take the reign from LeBron James as the best player in the NBA.
4. Kawhi Leonard
Career Statistics: 18.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Kawhi was able to lead two teams to iconic Finals victories, and cement his legacy as one of the greatest players to ever play his position. Through his dedication, smooth offensive moves, and All-NBA level defense, he proved to the world that he is easily one of the two best players on the planet. His complete skillset and his dominance on both ends of the court are symbolic of a player that is admired across the sport’s world.
Former Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard is still one of the best 2-way players in the game. Nobody plays at a more controlled pace than Leonard and that is the reason he has made every team he is on a title contender. If Leonard can manage to win his third NBA title with his 3rd team, Leonard enters the conversation alongside LeBron James and Larry Bird in terms of being the best small forward ever.
3. Anthony Davis
Career Statistics: 24.0 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, 2.4 BPG
Davis has done exceptionally well so far in his young career by making the All-Star Team 7 times, All-NBA Team 4 times, and also making All-Defensive Team 4 times. AD has led the league in blocks 3 times and was most recently crowned the 2020 NBA champion due to his dominant performances in the postseason. Davis's presence on both ends of the court places him among the top-3 players destined to take over from LeBron as the king of the league.
As LeBron James's teammate and the player who will be learning from LeBron's incredible basketball mind, Anthony Davis will be ready to take the next step as the face of the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA as the best big man in basketball.
2. Luka Doncic
Career Statistics: 24.7 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Doncic has been superb in his 2 seasons in the league, and is playing at a level we haven't seen in a very long time from such a young player. Doncic is putting up staggering numbers, but his leadership and clutch shooting has been a massive shock to the NBA world. Doncic will undoubtedly be one of the top MVP candidates in the game for the rest of his career and has a very strong case for winning one very soon. LLuka'sdominance resulted in monster stats this year and even a spot as a Western Conference All-Star.
The fact that Luka plays in a controlled fashion, and already has a complete game at only 21 years of age gives him an edge over the rest of the pack. Doncic is a natural baller and has the pure talent to take over the NBA very soon, but only one player is ahead of him to be the undisputed king of the league.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Career Statistics: 20.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Without a doubt, the player who will reign supreme as the goat of the league and face of the NBA is 2-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. He has already achieved tremendous individual awards such as his 2 MVPs and the Defensive Player of the Year Award, along with being the best player for a team that earned the #1 seed in 2 straight seasons. Giannis upped his scoring average tremendously this season and was one of the best scorers in the league.
He seemed to figure it all out, attacking the basket with force and using his length to get easy buckets. When Giannis has a clear path to the rim, he is certain to get a bucket. Giannis Antetokounmpo's impact on a basketball game is near perfection when taking into account his defensive prowess as well. Giannis has all the tools to stop a player and even play help defense.
The only knock on Giannis is his inconsistent jump shooting but that doesn't stop him from being the single most dominant NBA superstar who will be the face of the league once LeBron James calls it quits on a legendary career. The torch will be passed to The Greek Freak when it's all said and done.